Every January, many of us are inspired by the prospect of a healthier self to begin important lifestyle and behavior changes. In the United States, losing weight is among the most common of New Year’s resolutions. Here, we outline some tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index). We won’t go on to describe the mechanics of doing a proper push-up, or offer healthy recipes, but we will offer you practical information to help you achieve more optimal health, of which fitness/ body composition is a byproduct.
Lean body mass and weight loss are very dependent on the following:
- Eliminating/ reducing inflammation. Most people associate inflammation with redness and pain after an injury or illness. This is how acute inflammation manifests itself, and it is easy to see and feel. But subacute, or “chronic” inflammation is the type of inflammation that manifests as heart disease, cancer, fatigue, and – you guessed it – extra pounds. Chronic inflammation is not something we directly feel, hence the phrase, “silent killer.”
It is true that eating fresh fruits and vegetables in copious amounts can help quell inflammation, but the key is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. One strategy is to eliminate sugar, as it is extremely inflammatory: eating sugar increases inflammation. This is a simple enough concept, but did you know that fat cells, too, are inflammatory? Contrary to popular belief, adipose tissue (AKA “fat”) is not an inert substance in the body: it is, in fact, a living organ that secretes inflammatory hormones. This in turn exacerbates metabolic dysfunction. Therefore, weight loss generally helps reduce inflammation. And when you reduce inflammation, it helps you lose weight.
- Maintaining stable blood sugar. Many people believe that hunger is mostly caused by an empty stomach when the reality is that hunger is a response to blood glucose levels. This is why it is possible to eat hundreds, even thousands of calories (such as candy bars and other sweets), then feel hungry relatively soon after. This is also the reason why it is possible to go long periods of time without eating (despite an empty stomach, there is a lack of hunger). The bottom line? It’s all about blood sugar control.
When starting a new weight loss program, one of the many obstacles that eventually trips people up is wild blood sugar fluctuations, which leads to unrelenting cravings and mood swings. The goal, then, is to optimize blood sugar stability/ prevent insulin resistance. Doing so helps drive a metabolic shift that facilitates weight loss and weight management. Blood sugar control can be easily assessed via pre-diabetes biomarkers including fasting glucose, HbA1C, and insulin.
Optimizing gut health. This means establishing and colonizing the gastrointestinal tract with diverse beneficial bacteria (AKA a healthy microbiome). Healthy gut flora not only help protect against pathogens, they also help synthesize vitamins and impact neurotransmitter levels, ultimately affecting not only one’s immune system function, but how one looks and feels.
A healthy gut ecology is supported through the consumption of prebiotic and probiotic foods. Fermented foods, such as vegetables and dairy, are such examples. On the other hand, sugar and refined carbohydrates promote the growth of pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria, which often cause weight gain.
The good news is that these three pillars of health work synergistically: reducing inflammation helps promote healthy gut bacteria; optimizing blood sugar results in a smaller inflammatory burden; and a healthy gut helps drive blood sugar stabilization with greater efficiency. All work together; fortunately, you can quantify more than just what you see on the scale.
Did you know that many biomarkers are available to measure inflammation, blood sugar control, and gut health? Contact SpectraCell Laboratories to find out more!